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Keep it simple and delicious at this ‘hueco’, or hole in the wall restaurant, on San Sebas Plaza

By Sylvester Grahame

The Tienda Cafe, across from San Sebastian Plaza is one of the many cafes in Cuenca with a decidedly family approach to dining. The atmosphere is sunny and bright. What distinguishes Tienda is the understated grace and professional attention in the kitchen. This is honest family-style cooking at its finest.

Chef Isabel Tinoco is expanding the menu. Featured among her new breakfast offerings is a dish that will keep you satiated all day long — a plantain waffle ($4.95) that is as surprising as it is tasty.

Tienda Cafe on San Sebastian Plaza is what is known in Latin America as a “hueco”, or “hole in the wall” in English.

Rather than a foil for maple syrup, or chocolate and strawberries, this is light on calories and bursting with fresh flavor and a crunchy texture devoid of gluten or guilt. An egg and a dollop of avocado dressing completes a healthy and scrumptious beginning to your day.

Those who are late risers often look to the sandwich board for a treat. The modest selection is sufficient for any discerning diner and is prepared either hot or cold,  ($4.90). More ambitious creations include a selection of house-made kombucha for $3 and a changing array of desserts from $2.50 to $4. They all look great and taste like small morsels of powdered sugar cloud-dipped into fresh raised sunlight. Of course, the coffee machine is hissing all day, fomenting excitable milk and pressuring beans to give up their rich, complex flavors.

Apple pie just like mamma used to make.

Yep, there you have it. Hissing, cajoling, pressuring and complimenting —  just like a family.

Tienda Cafe is a perfect choice for a slice of sweetness in the midst of a busy day or a place to plug in your ‘puter and surf the net for a spell. Cozy and comfortable, the Tienda may well become your home away from home.
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Tienda Cafe, Coronel Talbot 8-52 across from San Sebastian plaza; Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Major credit cards are not accepted;  Notes: Restaurant is disabled accessible and family friendly; Facebook